ELYRIA – The hands of a veteran Lorain County Board of Mental Health worker – who stole about $177,000 from the agency – shook as she pleaded guilty Monday to criminal charges that could send her to prison for 30 years.
Tamala Foor clutched her boyfriend, Ronald Miller, who also entered a guilty plea to the charges against him for his involvement in the thefts, as they stood before county Common Pleas Judge Edward Zaleski.
Foor, 41, spent about 20 years at the Mental Health board before she was fired in 2005 after she was caught taking $466 in cash advances from an agency credit card. An investigation and state audit eventually determined that she had stolen $177,638 before being caught.
She used the money to pay for her personal expenses, police said.
An accounting clerk for the agency, Foor managed to take the money by creating two sets of invoices, one paid to Miller, whom she had set up as a vendor with the agency.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said his office planned to push for both Foor and Miller – who also faces 30 years behind bars – to go to prison.
Foor pleaded guilty to charges of theft in office, tampering with records and theft, while Miller, 44, pleaded guilty to complicity to the charges faced by Foor.
Mike Duff, the couple`s attorney, said they only have one real chance of convincing Zaleski to let them remain free.
“Their only hope of getting probation is to make restitution,” Duff said.
Charlie Neff, the Mental Health Board`s executive director, said Foor damaged the agency`s reputation and forced the agency to put safeguards in place to prevent thefts in the future.
“She was trusted, and clearly that trust was violated,” he said.